MOUNT GAY RUM — Founded 1703
Sometimes the longevity of a business is based on kismet. Intangible synchronicities that have supplied the enterprise with the right ingredients for success for hundreds of years.
Having Mother Nature on your side definitely helps.
The terroir (French for the environmental factors that ultimately lead to particular flavor) of the island of Barbados is unique and through no human effort whatsoever, it contributed to the creation of Mount Gay Rum, the distillers of the oldest existing brand of rum in the world.
Barbados is the only island in the Caribbean that is built on coral. It means that the island produces some of the purest water in the world. Mount Gay Rum has its own proprietary well on its 280-acre estate on the northern part of the island and has since 1703 when William Sandiford consolidated the island’s smaller plantations into one big vertical operation. Control of the most elemental parts of its product became the hallmark of Mount Gay, ensuring that its rum couldn’t possibly be replicated.
In 1747 he sold the operation to John Sober, (not a typo). who along with his son, Cumberbatch, (yes Cumberbatch) ran the distillery from England. It proved to be a troublesome org chart, so the Sobers granted full management authority to Sir John Gay Alleyne, a native Barbadian. He was a beloved leader among the moneyed island elites but also a great philanthropist who vehemently spoke out against slavery. When Sir John died in 1807, the Sobers renamed the estate to honor their trusted servant, and Mount Gay was born.
Being an island and all, Mount Gay had a built-in customer base, namely sailors who brought the elixir with them on their journeys. Brand ambassadors of the first order who built the business into a global concern by 1900.
In 1918 Aubrey Fitz-Osbert Ward purchased Mount Gay, affixed the family seal to the product (as you do), and remained at the helm until Ward’s son dies in 1989. Since then Mount Gay has been majority-owned by the Remy-Cointreau Group.
Fun Fact: The first drink James Bond orders in Casino Royale, is not his signature vodka martini, but a Mount Gay rum and soda.